Jesuit Terms R
German Jesuit; father of Catholic theology in the 20th century
Did doctoral studies in the history of philosophy at the University of Freiburg, but his dissertation on Thomas Aquinas’ epistemology (later published as Spirit in the World) was rejected by a professor whose only claim to fame now is that he rejected Rahner’s dissertation.
In his teaching (at Innsbruck, Munich, & Münster) and writing over nearly 50 years, he re-did the long tradition of Catholic theology in a way that required much of his listeners and readers intellectually, but still “spoke” to their hearts and touched their existential reality and need. He was a poet in his own unique style of prose.
He was a commanding theological presence at Vatican II (1962-65). And reading his works as they were gradually translated into English after the Council was for many in this country to understand what had prepared the way for that great revolution in official Catholic theological thinking.
See the fine biographical-theological essay on Rahner in Ronald Modras’ Ignatian Humanism (Loyola Press, 2004).
Ramos, Julia Elba (42) and Cecilia Ramos (15)
See "Martyrs of the UCA"
Latin for "Plan of Studies"
A document, the definitive form of which was published in 1599 after several earlier drafts and extensive consultation among Jesuits working in schools. It was a handbook of practical directives for teachers and administrators, a collection of the most effective educational methods of the time, tested and adapted to fit the Jesuit mission of education. Since it was addressed to Jesuits, the principles behind its directives could be assumed. They came, of course, from the vision and spirit of Ignatius. The process that led to the Ratio and continued after its publication gave birth to the first real system of schools the world had ever known.
Much of what the 1599 Ratio contained would not be relevant to Jesuit schools today. Still, the process out of which it grew and thrived suggests that we have only just begun to tap the possibilities within the international Jesuit network for collaboration and interchange. [See also "Education, Jesuit" and "Pedagogy, Ignatian/Jesuit."]
The head of a major Jesuit community within a province.
Reform of the Church
At the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), a topic came into Catholic discourse that would have been unspeakable or even unthinkable for centuries before: Reform of the Church. That was a key Protestant idea, and therefore to be avoided at all cost. The church was a "perfect society" and didn't need reform and renewal. But the Council dissolved that inhibition. Even with the tendency of the current and immediately past papacies to return to pre-Vatican II ways, Pope Benedict spoke to Vatican officers in late 2005, telling them that the Council needed to be interpreted through a "hermeneutic [interpretative principle] of reform."
It's hard to find follow-up reform practices on the part of the Vatican. Still, the Australian Jesuit theologian Gerald O'Collins, who spent most of his life teaching and writing in Rome, has suggested reforms that the doctrinal congregation (CDF) could undertake if its newly appointed head wanted to implement reform in this most powerful of the Vatican offices:
- Practice subsidiarity; don't deal with an issue that comes to Rome when it could be dealt with locally or regionally.
- Honor the right of an accused to a fair hearing: the accused should be given the accusations in writing well beforehand, be present from the outset, be faced with the accuser(s), and be represented and accompanied by a professional of his/her choice.
- The staff of the congregation should be "theologians of diverse schools."
- They should have limited terms.
- The congregation could publish the works of the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Biblical Commission as its own. These commissions "have handled their sources more skillfully, argued their case more compellingly, and produced more convincing documents than those coming from the CDF itself."
- In sum, the congregation could be "promoting theology that would be creatively faithful and pastorally effective in the multi-cultural and fast-changing world of today."
See Vatican Council II (1962-1965) Back to top
The stages of Jesuit formation
After the first five years of study and formation, the Regent devotes 2-3 years to full-time apostolic work (ministry) with supervision, often in a Jesuit high school, sometimes in a Jesuit university or other Jesuit ministry. In addition to the ministry provided, he thus also gains experience for reflection and integration in the next stage, Theology
Regis, John Francis (1597-1640)
French Jesuit; home missioner
After the devastation of religious war (Huguenots vs. Catholics), John Francis Regis ministered throughout southern France. “He consoled the disturbed of heart, visited prisons, collected food and clothing for the poor, established homes for [the rehabilitation of] prostitutes. . . . His influence reached all classes and brought about a lasting spiritual revival . . . . (MacDonnell, Jesuit Family Album [Fairfield, CT: Clavius Group).
Miraculous cures of the sick, attributed to his intercession, took place during his life and after his death.
Many institutions are named after him (e.g., the Jesuit university and the high school in Denver).
One of the major accomplishments of the Second Vatican Council* (1962-1965) was a reversal of a centuries-long negative attitude toward non-Christian religions—Judaism especially, as well as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and others. Even before the council, the Catholic church had prepared the way for this reversal by condemning the long-held belief that there is no salvation outside the church. Now Vatican II went on to affirm that non-Christian religions contain truth and goodness and to call for Christian dialogue with members of these faiths on an equal and mutually respectful footing. The way to be religious, in our pluralist world, is to be “interreligious.”
See "Inter-Religious Dialogue"
Religious Order/Religious Life
In Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christianity (less frequently in Anglican/Episcopal Christianity), a community of men or women bound together by the common profession, through "religious" vows, of "chastity" (better called voluntary "consecrated celibacy" [and thus not to be confused with the imposed celibacy of Roman Catholic clergy]), "poverty" and "obedience." As a way of trying to follow Jesus' example, the vows involve voluntary renunciation of things potentially good: marriage and sexual relations in the case of "consecrated celibacy," personal ownership and possessions in the case of "poverty," and one's own will and plans in the case of "obedience."
This renunciation is made, not for its own sake, but "for the sake of [God's] kingdom" (Matthew 19:12), as a prophetic witness against a culture's abuse of sex, wealth (greed), and power (domination) and toward a more available and universal love beyond family ties, personal possessions, and self-determination. As a concrete form of Christian faith and life, it emphasizes the relativity of all the goods of this earth in the face of the only absolute, God, and a life lived definitively with God beyond this world.
This way of life first appeared in the second half of the first century in the person of "virgins" (mostly women but also some men) who lived at home and, by refusing to marry and produce offspring (they claimed to be "spouses of Christ"), countered the absolutist claims of the state (Rome) and hence many of them became martyrs. After Constantine's conversion to Christianity (313) and Christianity's establishment as the state religion, "religious life" developed further as a major movement away from the "world" and the worldliness of the church. The monastic life of monks and nuns is a variation on this tradition. At the beginning of the modern Western world, various new religious orders sprang up (the largest being the Jesuits) that saw themselves not as fleeing from the world but as "apostles" sent out into the world in service. In more recent centuries, many communities of religious women were founded with a similar goal of apostolic service, often with Jesuit-inspired constitutions.
A directory of Jesuit Retreat Houses and Spirituality Programs throughout the world.
Review for Religious
Published by the Missouri Province Jesuits from 1942 through January 2012, the collection documents the dramatic changes that took place in religious life over a span of 70 years. The journal published articles of interest for women and men religious across the spectrum of religious life, from active apostolic communities to contemplative monastic communities. Articles covered a range of topics pertinent to religious life, including prayer and spirituality, current best practices and canonical guidelines.
Rhodes, Alexander (1591-1660)
French Jesuit; missioner to Vietnam
Alexander Rhodes, of Jewish Spanish descent, was born in Avignon in southern France. In 1625, as a Jesuit missioner, he went to Cochin, China, and two years later to Tonkin in Indochina. There he did “gigantic work in building a church which through three and a half centuries of turbulent history . . . numbers those who have died for the faith in the hundreds of thousands, a record for protracted martyrdom with few, if any, parallels in the annals of Christianity” (Bangert, A History of the Society of Jesus (1968).
In his missiology, Rhodes favored an understanding and acceptance of Vietnamese customs, he wore Vietnamese clothing, and he was a master of their language, being the first person to transcribe it in western characters and write its grammar. He insisted on the development of a native clergy and arranged with Rome to have church officials unconnected to the Portuguese colonial system. He trained catechists who became the backbone of the young but fast-growing Vietnamese church.
See Phan, Mission and Catechesis: Alexandre de Rhodes and Inculturation in Seventeenth-Century Vietnam (1998).
Ricci, Matteo (1552-1610)
Italian Jesuit; missioner to China, pioneer practitioner of inculturation
First Jesuit to enter the forbidden kingdom of China and reach the court of the emperor; adopted Chinese language, dress, and culture, and wrote two of the great masterpieces of Chinese (Mandarin) literature.
Born the year Francis Xavier died, Ricci was the living incarnation of the adaptive principles set out by the Jesuit visitor Alessandro Valignano (1538-1606) in his missiology for the Far East. Trained in mathematics and the sciences under Clavius (1538-1612) at the Roman College, Ricci appealed to the natural curiosity of the educated Mandarin class in China by his exhibition of clocks, prisms, mathematical instruments, oil paintings, and maps of the world.
He ran into difficulty with certain traditional Chinese ritual practices in honor of ancestors and of Confucius. His final judgment was that these practices were more cultural and civic than religious and so should be allowed to converts. The issue remained in dispute till the 18th-century condemnation of the “Chinese Rites” by the Vatican. See “Inculturation.”
Matteo Ricci is one of the five Jesuits that Ronald Modras treats in his Ignatian Humanism (Loyola, 2004). Vincent Cronin was Ricci’s first book-length biographer in English (The Wise Man from the West [Dutton, 1954]). A more recent biography is The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci by Jonathan Spence (Viking, 1984).
Rodriguez, Alphonsus (1533-1617)
Spanish Jesuit brother; doorkeeper
Alphonsus Rodriguez’s father was a prosperous cloth merchant in Segovia. When Peter Faber, one of the closest companions of Ignatius of Loyola, came to town to preach and teach catechism, he stayed with the family and along with other ministries prepared Alphonsus for his first communion. Alphonsus went to a Jesuit school, but did not finish because his father died suddenly. He helped his mother carry on and eventually took over the family business. At 27, he married Maria Suarez and the couple had three children. But their happy family life was interrupted by the deaths in quick succession of one, then another child, then his wife and finally the only remaining child, leaving Alphonsus a lonely, grieving widower.
At approximately age 35, he sought entry into the Jesuit novitiate to become a priest. But he was refused, told that he was too old and lacked sufficient education and health. He went to Valencia to finish his studies and applied again and again was turned down—until the provincial superior overruled the examiners’ decision. Shortly after entering the novitiate as a Jesuit brother, he was sent to the Jesuit college in Palma on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean. He wound up spending the rest of his life there. After holding a number of positions in his early years there, he was appointed doorkeeper; he welcomed visitors who came to see Jesuits or students, delivered messages, and offered counsel to many who sought his advice. Among them was the young Peter Claver, whom he encouraged to go to the South American missions, where he became a minister to the slaves brought from Africa to Cartagena (in present-day Colombia).
Although few knew the deep, intense mystical inner life with which he was graced, many sensed the holiness of the man. When Alphonsus was declared a saint in 1888, the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins celebrated the event with a sonnet that concludes . . .
Yet God (that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more)
Could crowd career with conquest while there went
Those years and years by of world without event
That in Majorca Alfonso watched the door.
JESUIT A TO Z: An expanded version of the publication "Do You Speak Ignatian?"